Sticks and Stones
“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I am here to disagree. I believe words are the most powerful form of inflicting pain on someone else. Literally moments after my “incident” (as everyone seems to call it) a so called “friend” said to me, “God Morgan, look at you, you act like you want to get raped.” Sure, he did not know what kind of hell I had just been through, but he knew exactly what it was he had just said to me. That confused me. I had not asked for anything, I had limits, and morals, and standards just like the next person, and yet there I found myself, body against dirt with hundreds of pounds of “stranger” looming over me, and it had just been observed that this is what I wanted to happen.
I am embarrassed for myself and others over the things we have said that I never realized were so painful. I wish I could personally apologize to every victim of every type of crime for every time somebody forces them to relive the horrors they have been through simply by the words that slip out so easily. It should not be so easy to disturb somebody’s very own personal space the way we find it to be anymore. It shouldn’t be something we take pride in, reducing somebody to tears with our verbal fury, and yet, even as I say this I know it is pointless, because of who we are, and who I know myself to be.
We are spoon-fed the beliefs that fat girls eat McDonalds, whores wear mini skirts, black kids are illiterate, gay men all have AIDS and pink hair, and rape victims ask to be violated. These assumptions are stirred into our oatmeal as babies, and we are nourished off the knowledge they supposedly hold. I know this. I know because I have been on both sides, as many people have, and I know the things I used to automatically believe, just because of the things I heard other people say.
I remember a specific time on a city bus, sitting there with a bunch of people I unconsciously looked up to, and having a girl read from her Seventeen magazine about a girl who had been raped. The reaction was shameful. I heard laughter, and I saw eyes roll, and I remember a guy saying, “Well that’s what that slut gets,” and this was before I really knew anything about rape and abuse of any kind. All I was able to get from the conversations that followed was ‘whores have consequences’, or something like that. The naive minds of teenagers are so upsetting. I wish I could go back a slap us all in the face for what we said, because I am not a whore, I didn’t ask anybody to do anything to me and yet now, whenever people catch a tiny bit of my story, and don’t sit to listen, or try to process what they have just heard, I am told I wanted it. Watch out girls, because now, full body violation is your fault, and you will suffer the consequences. Everybody is against the girl who could not protect herself.
I strongly disagree with everyone who has told me that were they to be faced with any type of danger that they would somehow manage to pull out some superhuman strength and overpower the persons trying to cause them harm. The world doesn’t work this way. You are not God, and you are not that good an imitator. I thought these things; I thought I was invincible, because it’s so much easier to think that in the safety of your own room, or a close circle of friends. You can think yourself safe, but rest assured if that’s what you choose to do, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening, or more likely a rude nightmare.
I can not express how frightening the realization that you aren’t able to protect yourself from the world is. I am told regularly by people who don’t even know my past that rape victims and victims of sexual assault are girls who dress like hookers, talk way more mature then their bodies can support, and wind up in bad parts of town. Only one of these was true for me, and that’s only because I cant choose where I go to school, the law says I have to go, so if you want to place blame, point it at the people who made one of the most prestigious schools in Nashville in the heart of the projects. I wasn’t dressed in tight clothes and wearing a thong. I was wearing teenage girl clothes, cause that’s what I am, no crime there, and I never spoke to the man who threw me on the ground. The only words exchanged were, “stop fighting, don’t tell, I’ll hurt you,” as he ran his hands up and down my body trying to decide which part of my personal space to violate first. If you try to convince me that this is what I was hoping for when I woke up that morning then call me and let me tell you what I dreamt about that night.
To think, all this, for a little girl, and yet I walk down the street or in the mall and everywhere I look I can hear me, or my friends, or somebody else being tormented for things that are so personal, and not even actual at all. People say things just because they can, yet nobody just stops to think of who they might be hurting with their venomous words that have no trouble making their way out their mouths. It’s a sad thing when we aren’t able to be who we want to be because everybody else can’t handle or understand that person. Who are we to judge each other? We have religions, and faiths, and lacks of both to support the idea of being kind to our neighbor, and yet if that neighbor is from the Middle East we go behind their backs and call them a terrorist. I’m sure for those who are religious, it is exactly what God wants, for us to judge what he made, and for those of us who aren’t, it is very easy to think we can just say what we want, because nobody is listening, but trust me, somebody is listening. Somebody is having their day ruined by your ignorance and inability to not hold back judgment. I have done it as well. I am guilty, but I will admit it.
The reality is most fat girls come form a long line of overweight family members, and it isn’t that easy to just “be skinny,” and not all girls who wear miniskirts find a street corner to prowl every night. Many African Americans not only can read but write, and teach, and harbor massive amounts of knowledge inside their darkened exterior, and gay men don’t all have AIDS, and many, if not the majority, don’t even like the color pink, let alone want it for their hair color. Just as the others, rape victims don’t ask to be raped, and when you tell one she did, she is probably going to come back, and tell the world how utterly immature and unintelligent you really are, through two typed pages, that speak volumes you couldn’t even match if you screamed.
Our words are one of the greatest weapons we possess. I believe this, to the fullest extent, and I can tell you personally, if that’s what you would like, exactly why this is so, because only my words can express it to you.
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